Understanding Comics and Maus

By: MnGyver
     The popular graphic novel “Maus” by Art Spiegelman is the touching story of a Jewish father explaining his horrifying journey through the Holocaust in Europe to his son, who has never had the best relationship with is father.  However, as his son ages, he realizes the importance of family and makes an attempt to reconcile any negative feelings with his father by trying to understand his hardships throughout his life.
     The textbook “Understanding Comics” by Scott McCloud is an excellent reference for delving into comics on a deeper level to truly understand them as an art form, define them, and examine popular comic techniques.  Being a person who has never read many comics, this book is a valuable resource if you are interested in truly understanding any graphic novel.
     So, when I began reading “Maus” I found that the first several chapters of “Understanding Comics” is very helpful to help understand some of the styles that were used.  One concept that was expressed is the idea that simple images and styles can actually be used to better illustrate more complex, less simple stories (45).  This is a very prominent concept in “Maus”.  For instance, “Maus” tells a very complex and dark story.  One man is essentially telling his son, and the whole world, his personal experience during a time that many cannot even begin to imagine.  However, the author chooses to illustrate the Jewish characters as mice instead of people.  Furthermore, the author illustrates the Nazi characters as cats.  From a young age, kids learn that cats hunt and chase mice.  Other cartoons, such as “Tom and Jerry” show us that cats have a rivalry with mice and are much bigger animals.  In a sense, they can be viewed as bullies.  Although the overall concept of “Maus” can be hard to understand or imagine, the concept of a cat and mouse rivalry is easier for most to fathom.  Overall, “Maus takes a very simple style to express a very complex idea.

By: Raios de Luz – Gláucia Góes

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